Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Arkansas Commits Over $2 Billion in Timber Industry

April 28, 2017

Since January 2015, the state of Arkansas has signed incentive agreements with 29 forest products companies for 17 different locations. The deals are with domestic industry leaders such as Georgia-Pacific and Kimberly-Clark, as well as China's Sun Paper and Canada's Conifex Timber, Inc. In just over a year, these projects will lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs and proposed investments worth more than $2 billion in Arkansas.

Timber and paper products companies continue to find success in Arkansas. With an abundance of timber, sustainable water resources and a skilled workforce at hand, the state is primed to bring continued success to companies in the timber industry. To learn more about the timber industry in Arkansas, click here.

Conifex Timber Inc.

Conifex Timber Inc., headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, recently committed $80 million and 120 new jobs to modernize and re-start the state-of-the-art sawmill complex in El Dorado, Arkansas. This project will provide Conifex with access to the timber and lumber markets across the South and will have a significant economic impact on the state’s economy and the lives of many families throughout the region.

Currently, Conifex primarily manufactures structural grade Spruce Pine Fir dimension lumber. With the renovation of the upgraded mill, they plan to produce 180 million board feet of lumber initially. Saw timber purchases are expected to reach 700,000 tons per year, or $30 million, from suppliers within an approximate 60-mile radius.

Sun Paper

Another huge win for the timber industry in Arkansas came when Chinese paper giant, Sun Paper, announced that they will be opening a bio-refinery in South Arkansas. Headquartered in China’s Shandong Province, Sun Paper ranks among the top 500 Chinese enterprises and one of the world’s top pulp and paper makers. 

The company will invest more than $1 billion in the bio-products mill and create 250 new jobs. During the expected 2 ½-year construction, it is estimated that the project will support more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,000 indirect positions before the project begins production. This will be the company’s first facility in North America and will be among the largest investments in the state’s history, having an enormous impact on the state for many generations. 

The Sun Paper plant will be located at the Clark County Industrial Plant in Gum Springs, just south of Arkadelphia. This location is at the center of Arkansas’ so-called “wood basket,” where the state’s commercially viable forest covers about 18.8 million acres – about half of the state’s total area.

According to the Arkansas Forestry Commission, between 2011 and 2015 Arkansas grew approximately 25 million tons of pine timber, a product that Sun Paper will rely on heavily. Roughly 16.1 million tons of pine timber were harvested leaving 8.9 million tons across the state. Sun Paper could use up to 4 million tons of pine timber per year, the commission said.

The state is committed to the sustainable production of timber supplies for the industry. The geography, transportation infrastructure and abundant resources in Arkansas will continue to draw in companies from all over the world for timber and paper product manufacturing well into the future.